Title: Burning Bridges
Related Works: Playing With the Big Bad Wolf
“Agent DiNozzo, you will be assigned to the USS Seahawk as their agent afloat for the next year. Your flight leaves at 0800 tomorrow morning,” Director Vance announced as he stared at Tony from behind his desk. It was covered in files and Tony could see the edge of one with his name on it. “I expect you to do well there.”
“That would be a hard ‘no’ Director,” Tony said. He was not going to go out to sea for a long-term assignment. He suppressed the urge to pat his pocket where his phone was sitting, recording the conversation.
“No? Agent DiNozzo, are you under the impression you are able to dictate staffing?” Vance asked.
Tony raised an eyebrow at the new Director’s question. “Due to my medical history, it was deemed inadvisable for me to have a long-term assignment in a closed environment such as a ship. Also, I believe Agent Afloat is a voluntary assignment and I don’t remember volunteering.”
“I volunteered you,” Vance told him. “And your ‘medical’ condition,” and here he gave the term air quotes and a sneer before pressing on. “is no reason to get out of shipboard service.”
“Well, that’s the first time I’ve had the plague dismissed as a medical condition,” Tony mused as he stared at Vance. “And you can tell the CDC, Bethesda, Dr. Brad Pitt, and SecNav that you know better than them regarding the risks to me and anyone treating me if I do get ill. The medical facilities onboard the Seahawk are not up to the task of treating me.”
“You can’t be contagious after all this time,” Vance observed. He waved a hand at Tony as if to say that he was there and not somewhere else.
“True, I do come into work and I’m no, I’m not contagious,” Tony allowed. “But I have medical conditions that I live with that preclude me working in a closed environment such as a ship.”
Vance smiled at that. “Well then, if you can’t medially comply with the orders, I guess that means that I need to accept your resignation.”
“I don’t recall putting one in,” Tony said. He leaned back in his chair and raised an eyebrow at Vance.
“Oh, trust me, I’ll put one in for you,” Vance informed him. “After all, your actions helped lead to the death of Director Shepard and no one will be surprised that you resigned due to the guilt you feel from that.”
“But that’s the thing, Mr. Vance,” Tony stared at the man before him and wondered at his moxie. “I don’t feel guilty at all. Director Shepard gave me an order and I obeyed it. She’s the one who chose to go out in a blaze of glory.”
“No one knows that Mr. DiNozzo and you certainly aren’t going to be here to discuss it,” Vance informed him.
“Rather sure of that are you? Also, how are you going to keep me from discussing it, Mr. Vance?” Tony asked. He was morbidly curious as to how the man was going to cover things up. And why he thought Tony wouldn’t have had something to prove Shepard’s orders.
“Your orders were verbal, there’s no one here who can back you up,” Vance said with a smile. “I doubt you’d want to look like a liar by going against the official position of the agency.”
“I wonder why that is?” Tony asked. He was going to ignore the shot about standing up for what was right. Obviously, Vance hadn’t read his file. “Could it be because you sent Officer David back to Israel right after Shepard’s funeral?”
Vance grimaced and waved a hand down towards the bullpen. “She was a security breach that I couldn’t allow to stay on the MCRT.”
“On that, we agree. I put in at least one request a week asking for clarification on her status,” Tony said with a frown.
“I noticed,” Vance frowned down at the files before him before looking up and meeting his eye. “Do you know why they were ignored?”
“No, I don’t,” Tony said. “But since they were, you might want to check out what access she had, because I didn’t let her do much while I was team lead. I had no ability to check her access while Gibbs was in charge.”
“Interesting,” Vance allowed. He cocked his head at Tony and chewed on his toothpick. “What are you trying to do here?”
“Nothing,” Tony admitted. “I’ve already quit apparently, so me trying to make sure my former employer doesn’t let a lot of criminals loose is just me being a good citizen,” he said as he stood up and buttoned his sportscoat. “I’m sure you’re going to have a lot of fun explaining that whole mess to Admiral Chegwidden. Just a fair warning, he doesn’t have a sense of humor about criminals getting free.”
“Is that a threat?”
Tony tapped once on Vance’s desk and walked out. He ignored the huffing behind him and headed for his now, former desk. He’d arrived early for the meeting with Vance and had dropped his gear off before heading up to the Director’s office. His backpack was there and he easily packed all the important bits that he wanted to keep along with the change of clothes he kept in his file cabinet for those days when MCRT stayed overnight.
As soon as he had everything together, he looked around and nodded. Gibbs was somewhere, McGee was down in IT and Ziva had been shipped home. MCRT’s row was deserted. He signed in quickly and raised an eyebrow at still having any permissions. Looked like Vance was falling down on the job. Tony pulled a thumb drive out of his backpack and started moving his files over while updating his resignation.
Three clicks of his mouse had it ready to go out to all the relevant parties. One more click and his tenure at NCIS would be done. Tony took the time to look around the great orange space and sighed. Yeah, he was done. The final click of his mouse was loud in his head, but he didn’t care.
His hands were steady as he unclipped his gun and badge and left them on Gibbs’ desk. When he heard a throat being cleared, he looked up to see Balboa. “Time for me to go, man.”
“Stay safe,” Balboa directed. He glanced down at his phone and nodded once. “Gibbs has checked in downstairs and is heading for the elevator. If you want to go without drama…”
“Yeah, I’m heading,” Tony said before he pulled his thumb drive out of his old computer and grabbed his backpack. “Don’t let them get you dead,” he called as he hit the stairs.
“You too!” Balboa called as he heard the bell announcing the arrival of the elevator. Tony moved down the stairs at speed and hit the garage level seconds later. Thankfully he didn’t need his badge to exit the garage, just to enter, so that was covered.
As he exited the parking garage, he saw the stair door start to open and pulled his phone out of his pocket and quickly turned it off. He didn’t need to hear whatever bullshit that Gibbs was going to spout at him. He was done.
Driving aimlessly wasn’t going to get him anywhere, Tony decided as he pulled off the highway into a smallish town. He looked at the sign and sighed. He’d been driving for several hours and found himself in Bowling Green, Virginia, and had no real memory of the trip.
Tapping his fingers against the wheel of his car he tried to figure out what he wanted to do next. Heading back to his apartment was right out. Gibbs had a key to it and he figured the older man was staking it out, waiting on him to go home. He could turn the car around and check in with Admiral Chegwidden, but he expected that he would be getting a call from him soon enough. After all, one of the copies of his resignation had gone to him so he could be aware of any changes that would need to be done to the trial schedule.
“Fuck it. I’m hungry,” Tony muttered before he headed for the best Italian place the town had. Twenty minutes later he was slowly making his way through a plate of caprese and was looking forward to his Veal Piccata.
When someone slid into the booth with him, he sighed and took a sip of his wine before patting his lips clean with his napkin. “Jack. I wasn’t expecting to see you here. Aren’t you supposed to be back in Washington?”
“I am,” Jack admitted before he stole Tony’s fork and tasted the caprese. “That’s good.”
“And it’s mine,” Tony said evenly. “Get your own.”
“Fine.” Jack waved the waiter over and gave him his order before leaning back. “I had no idea you were planning on quitting NCIS. Didn’t you tell me that you weren’t interested in leaving them?”
“I did,” Tony confirmed. He sighed as Davis walked by the table and dropped off an NDA. “How long have you had this prepped?”
“Uhm,” Jack looked up at the ceiling and thought things over. “First time you and I slept together was 2001, so seven years?”
“Jack,” Tony took a deep breath and counted to twenty in Italian. It didn’t help much. “You’ve been in DC for the last three years.”
“And we’ve avoided talking about our jobs every single time we got together. Our on-again, off-again thing has been on my mind a lot lately,” Jack admitted. “I know it’s been more off than on recently, but I’m still hoping I can count you as a friend at least.”
Tony leaned back in his chair and studied the older man. He had never regretted the times that they had gotten together. What had started out as stress relief for the both of them had become a solid friendship that existed outside of the sex they had on occasion. He had even, in what was likely a first for him, declined to poke at what Jack did.
“We’re friends,” Tony finally said. “But I do want to know a couple of things…”
“How we found you and why we were looking?” Jack asked as he leaned back in his chair as their waiter placed an order of fried mushrooms in front of him.
“Those would be two of the questions,” Tony admitted.
“Read the NDA and I’ll answer them after you sign,” Jack directed.
“Fine,” Tony said before he pulled the document towards him. He reached into his backpack and pulled out a pen and a pad of paper. “Is this going to be worth the seven years of curiosity I’ve been suppressing?”
“I think so,” Jack said after he swallowed the bite he was chewing. He waved at his plate in offer. “Want some?”
Tony stabbed several mushrooms and dipped them in the marinara sauce the restaurant had provided. It was a good, not canned sauce that tasted homemade. Excellent. Opening the NDA, he started reading.
By the time he got through the whole thing, his wineglass was empty, his veal was a fond memory and he’d eaten more than one bite of Jack’s linguini di mari. “What in the hell are you involved in, Jack?” Tony asked as he closed the NDA.
“Just about everything,” Jack said. He waved his last garlic knot at the notepad Tony had been jotting observations down on. “I can tell you that you aren’t getting that notepad back. It’s currently Top Secret and you aren’t getting it back until you get on our payroll.”
“Yeah, speaking of that… What happens between you and me if I join your insanity?” Tony asked.
“Oh, you wouldn’t be reporting to me,” Jack admitted.
Tony blinked once at that and cocked his head to the side. “Who would I be reporting to?”
“Well, currently the candidate to be your boss is the Director of the Secret Service,” Jack said. He shrugged when Tony stared at him. “She offered.”
“I didn’t think Director Jacobs liked me that much,” Tony said. “Who else?”
Jack smiled at that and raised an eyebrow at him. “Your old boss, Director Morrow out of Homeland. He’s rather insistent.”
“Huh,” Tony thought things over and nodded once. “Do I get to pick my boss or what?”
“No, the President is going to make that call,” Jack said. “And Hayes wants to meet you as soon as possible, so we need to head back to DC for a meeting.”
“I’m not dressed to meet the President of the United States,” Tony protested as calmly as he could. He, thankfully, hadn’t gotten any of his lunch on his tie, but he was dressed for work at NCIS, not for a late afternoon meeting at the White House. “Also, you still haven’t told me how you knew I wasn’t with NCIS anymore. And found me.”
“We have your file flagged and any change in status alerts us,” Davis informed him as he picked up the NDA and pad. “Thank you for signing at every marker. Also, for picking an excellent place for lunch. Much better than the Pentagon’s mess.”
“Anything is better than their food,” Tony muttered. “And what? You have a bug on my car?”
“Yes,” Davis admitted. “You’ve been involved with the general in one fashion or another for years and we’ve been taking precautions.”
“For fucks sake, Davis,” Jack sighed. “And I’m guessing that all my cars are as well?”
“Yes, sir,” Davis confirmed without batting an eye. “It’s safer that way.”
“Fine,” Jack waved at the waiter and held out his hand. “I get the bill for the two of us and the three of them,” he said, waving at his security detail.
“Yes, sir,” the waiter agreed before heading off.
Tony held his peace as Jack settled the bill and he made sure that there was a good tip on the ticket. When they left, he handed over the keys to his car to one of Jack’s security detail and didn’t protest when he was shown into Jack’s SUV.
“So? Are you going to give me some idea of what I can expect?” Tony asked as he watched the miles between Bowling Green and the White House count down.
“Hayes wants to talk to you about our organization, and what we would need you for,” Jack said.
“Jack, even though I have a number of suspicions due to that utterly through NDA, you didn’t actually tell me what you do, remember?” Tony prompted his friend and occasional lover.
“I didn’t?” Jack looked over at Davis and sighed when the Colonel nodded once in confirmation. “Oh, sorry. We go to alien planets, explore semi-new civilizations, make enemies and find cool shit.”
“And try to fuck with my head,” Tony concluded. He studied Jack and tried to wrap his mind around the information he had gleaned from the NDA, what little information the man had dropped over the years and how seriously Davis was treating the whole thing. “Well, shit.”
Jack held out one hand to Davis and smiled smugly when the colonel dropped a twenty-dollar bill in it. “Told you he would be good with it.”
“You did, sir.” Davis agreed with a nod. “Shall I inform SG1 that they also owe you money?”
“Yeah, they’ll take it better from you,” Jack agreed. He nudged Tony once with his shoulder. “I think you would fit right in and we really do need an investigator. We’ve needed one for years, but we couldn’t talk anyone into taking the job and you were deep in NCIS and not planning on coming out.”
Tony frowned at that. “So what? You held the job for me?”
“No, we’ve had people who can investigate, but for the most part, they’ve been NID or something similar and they all have axes to grind. Sometimes with each other, sometimes with us. Normally we can work around them, but we’re too big now to not have an internal group who can handle our investigative needs,” Jack explained. He counted on his fingers for a moment and Tony had to wonder what he was tallying. “We’ve got six current locations that we have as bases and five ships that need supervising. You’ll never be bored.”
“I hate the NID,” Tony muttered as he thought things over. “Since you deal with aliens, I assume that at least one of the locations is on another planet?”
“So far two and a third will be heading out to one as soon as we can get things fixed on her,” Jack confirmed. “So right now, one of our bases is a base and then it will be a spaceship and then go back to being a base.”
“Oh, my god, sir,” Davis muttered as he reached down into a briefcase at his feet. “Should I give Agent DiNozzo the full briefing packet?”
“Yeah, that might be good,” Jack said.
“Thank you, Colonel,” Tony said as he took the paperwork. Reading while being driven was something that he didn’t have an issue with. He hadn’t gotten carsick with Gibbs in the seven years he’d be driving with him and his current driver was much better than his former boss. The precis that he had been handed was surprisingly informative for all that it was short.
“Abydos was a planet? I thought it was a city in Egypt?” Tony asked as he flipped pages.
“It was both,” Jack said. His voice sounded rough and Tony looked up to see what was wrong. Jack was looking out the window of the car, old grief and anger darkening his expression. “Shit happened and we lost the whole planet.”
“I’m sorry,” Tony said, reaching out to cover one of Jack’s hands with his. He had no idea what had happened, but he had an uneasy feeling that he was going to be learning soon. And that whatever the story behind losing the planet was, it wasn’t good.
Jack turned his hand over and threaded his fingers into his. “Thanks. Now, get back to reading. We’re not going to be that long on this drive.”
“Fair enough,” Tony said before he picked up the sheets and started reading again. He left his hand in Jack’s as much as he could.
The story the packet told was fantastical and horrible. Jack certainly had underplayed what had gone on with his organization. There had been multiple times over the years where Earth had been in danger of being decimated by an alien bent on world domination or even destruction. That no knew was an amazing bit of luck that they could no longer count on. “Please tell me there’s someone trying to figure out ways to break this to the world and not have it sound like the government is writing bad Wormhole Extreme fanfic?”
“Yeah, we do,” Jack admitted. “And given some of the shit that’s come across my desk for that, I wouldn’t be surprised if the planners aren’t mining the fanfic community for ideas.”
“It’s not an intrinsically bad idea, sir, but the people who write those tales don’t have the full story and that can make a great deal of difference in the outcome of any possible declassification scenario,” Davis observed.
“I wasn’t being serious,” Jack protested.
“I was,” Tony said. “You know that people like conspiracy theories and shows about aliens have always bred some doozies. Star Trek had some really interesting ones back in the day.”
“And I have a metric fuckton of Star Trek fans in the geek squad,” Jack said slowly like he was remembering something. “I wonder if I can get them to troll the various archives for inventive declassification options.”
Davis pinched the bridge of his nose before he nodded once. “I’ll reach out to Drs Felger and Combs, sir.”
“Thanks,” Jack said. He leaned slightly to the side and nodded once. “We’re here.”
“Oh, joy,” Tony muttered. He looked down at his clothes and shrugged. It was too late to care what he was wearing and it wasn’t as if he hadn’t been to the White House in worse. The last time he’d been inside the place, he’d been in a clean suit so he could collect evidence of a crime. That had been masses of no fun.
“You’ll do fine,” Jack said as he patted him on the knee. “Are you armed?”
Tony shook his head. “No, I’m not. I’m licensed to carry concealed, but I didn’t stop at home to pick up my own personal weapons.”
“Okay, well that will make the Secret Service a bit happier,” Jack said before he patted himself down.
“What are you checking for?” Tony asked.
“Oh, I’m making sure that everything’s still in place,” Jack admitted.
“Vest, knives, and the three guns that I know you wear on the regular?” Tony checked with Davis and confirmed he was similarly armed.
The look Jack flashed him was sharp before he leaned back. “Pretty much. How can you tell?”
“Did you forget what happened the last time we got together? You were wearing a low-profile vest along with enough hardware to stop a small invasion. I had to get you a box to hold it all,” Tony reminded him. It had been a good night, even if it had taken Jack several minutes to disarm.
“Right,” Jack looked at him carefully. “I’m guessing that you’re wishing that you were armed too?”
Tony flashed his friend a slightly acid look. “What kind of question is that?”
“A very obvious one,” Jack said with a nod.
The car slowed and pulled into the rear of the White House and Tony let Jack’s hand go to shake his shoulders out, trying to dump some of the tension that he was carrying. What in the hell had he gotten himself involved in?
“Showtime,” Jack muttered as the car came to a stop and the back door was opened.
“Agent DiNozzo,” Agent Roma, the Secret Service Agent Tony had dealt with the last time he’d been in the White House called as he walked up the stairs behind Jack. “Is Agent Gibbs with you?”
“Nope,” Tony informed him with a smile. “I’m not here as an NCIS agent. Matter of fact, I resigned from there,” he checked his watch. “About six hours ago. Agent Gibbs is likely camped out in my apartment, waiting on me to get home.”
“Well, now,” Roma frowned and looked down at his clipboard. “That makes things a bit harder.”
“Oh, I know, man. But I was informed that my resignation was expected and that it would be written for me if I didn’t,” Tony said with a grim edge to his smile. Airing dirty laundry was a horrible habit, but honestly, Vance was an idiot if he thought that Tony wasn’t going to get back at him for his shit. “I declined to have that done and resigned on my own. General O’Neill, however, decided that he wanted to talk to me and brought me along for the ride here.”
“Uh-huh,” Roma nodded once before he handed his clipboard off. “You’re going to need to be hand searched and wanded since you’re no longer employed by NCIS. Unless General O’Neill has hired you in the last six hours?”
“Nope, but he’s trying,” Tony said. “And I figured I would need the full treatment. The belt-buckle I’m wearing doesn’t come with the standard knife.”
Roma flashed him a dry look and Tony could only imagine what he was thinking. “Good to know,”
“Isn’t it?” Tony asked as he spread his arms out and moved his legs so they were shoulder-width apart. He didn’t actually mind the whole search process. He hadn’t bothered to arm up that morning for his meeting with Vance. Why tempt himself?
The whole search process took more than ten minutes and the agents checking out his bits were very thorough. When Roma confirmed he was cleared, Tony shamelessly reached down and adjusted himself. The pat-down had moved things around a bit.
“Thank you for your attention to detail, Agent Roma,” Jack called as they walked out.
Tony tutted softly and chuckled as Jack flashed him an irritated look. “You know that doesn’t work on me, so why try?”
“I live in hope that it will one day,” Jack fired back. “And that was annoying.”
“That was expected,” Tony said. He took a deep breath as Jack turned to stare at him. “I’m not an agent anymore, Jack. I have no role in the government, and while my clearance is still good, that can get taken away too. I’m an anomaly and the secret service hates those.”
“Very true, Agent DiNozzo,” Director Jacobs called.
“Director.” Tony inclined his head in her direction. “It’s just Mister at this time.”
“We shall see,” Jacobs allowed. “The President is expecting you.” She waved a hand towards the front of the building. “Follow me.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Tony muttered before he glanced at Jack. His… He really needed to figure out what he wanted Jack to be, he decided. If he went with what Jack was suggesting, the older man might end up being his boss and that was one Gibbs rule he actually agreed with. Dating a coworker, or your boss, was always a shitty bet.
“President Hayes has been fully briefed on the offer General O’Neill presented to you,” Jacobs said as they moved through the hallways. “Also, he’s been informed that you left NCIS and we’re in the process of finding out why. He may ask you a number of questions about that, and I suggest you answer them. There will be several others in the room with him, among them will be SecDef and SecNav.”
Tony took a deep breath at that and resisted the urge to turn around and head for the car. He had been an agent. What in the hell was he doing in a meeting with these people? Between one step and the next, he made a decision. He wasn’t going to let his nerves get the best of him. He’d done an undercover in the mob and survived. He’d dealt with serial killers, the plague, being framed and so much more bullshit that he couldn’t even begin to count it. Three old men with delusions of grandeur were nothing compared to all of that.
“Okay,” Tony murmured as he finished processing the briefing Jacobs was giving him. He had the lay of the land. Now he just needed to figure out how to play it. “Let’s get this thing over with.”
“I’m with you, Tony,” Jack said as they stepped into the antechamber before the Oval Office.
“I know that, Jack,” Tony murmured. “But you’ve pulled me into your insanity and now I need to figure out how to swim without fucking up your strokes.”
“I’ll be there for the assist,” Jack reminded as the door to the Oval Office opened. He sighed as the secret service agent at the door waved him in. Giving his uniform jacket one last tug, Jack headed in and Tony was right on his heels.
“Jack,” Hayes called from where he was standing behind his desk. “You managed to find him?”
“Yes, sir, I did,” Jack reported. He waved a hand between Tony and the President. “President Hayes, Tony DiNozzo, late of NCIS.”
“You were still with NCIS when I got briefed this morning.” Hayes eyed Tony shrewdly. “What happened?”
“Sir,” Tony looked over at SecNav and raised an eyebrow at his former boss. “Mr. Secretary?”
“You’re no longer under my employ DiNozzo. And you already let something slip to the Secret Service about that,” Winter said after a beat of silence.
“But I’m still bound by my contract and the oaths I took,” Tony reminded him.
Winter nodded once and then pointed at Hayes. “And he’s the President of the United States and is asking you for answers. I think you should give him what he’s asking for.”
“Right,” Tony agreed. He turned back to the president and raised an eyebrow at the frown the man was wearing. “I have no wish to go to prison, sir. So yes, I’m going to check to make sure I can say more than I had previously.”
“I can respect that,” Hayes said. He waved the three of them towards the couches in front of the Resolute desk. “Sit down and give me the information I want.”
“It’s not pretty,” Tony warned as he sat down. “And I haven’t shared it with anyone other than the investigators at NCIS, the acting Director, and Gibbs.”
“Uh-huh,” Hayes sat back in his chair and let it swing from side to side as he thought things over. “Okay. Lay it out.”
The next twenty minutes were…uncomfortable, Tony decided as he fell silent after spilling his guts. Jack had tensed and relaxed in waves as he reported what happened and then played the recording he had taken in Vance’s office and the one he had of Shepard order them to stay in place. While neither was strictly legal, he had done both to cover himself.
“What in the hell was that?” Hayes asked as Tony turned the last recording off and then turned the phone itself off. He had no idea if Abby had been searching for him or not, but he wasn’t taking the chance. The president turned to look at SecNav and raised an eyebrow at the man. “This falls at your feet Winter.”
“I know,” SecNav sighed. “DiNozzo, you said on that recording that David was with you when Shepard ordered you to stay behind while she went and got herself killed?”
“Yes sir, I did,” Tony confirmed.
“And she’s an Israeli national?” SecDef asked.
“She is,” Tony agreed. He placed his hand over Jack’s and tried to project calm at him. “As far as I know, she never applied for citizenship.”
“Did she have access to anything classified?” SecDef asked. He looked disturbed as he thought something through. “Would she have had access to anything?”
“We were MCRT, sir. If it was politically sensitive, classified, strange or high profile, we got it and more,” Tony explained. “Officer David was exposed to a great deal of classified information on our cases and I had no way to shield the information from her due to the limits I was placed under by Director Shepard and SSA Gibbs. I attempted to as both the senior field agent on MCRT and while I ran it when Gibbs was on medical leave, but I was told that Officer David had the Director’s confidence and I didn’t have the ability to object. I still filed weekly objections and they should still be on file with IA though.”
“Jesus, what was Shepard doing over there?” Hayes muttered. He turned to SecNav and waved a hand at him. “Make sure that IA gets on that and investigates. And tell Vance that I want to know what the hell he was thinking threatening one of his agents for doing their damn job.”
“I was the agent of record when Shepard was killed, sir,” Tony cut in. There was no way that he was going to try to sweep his actions under the radar. He’d learned the lesson about accepting his fuckups years ago.
“And you’ve been an agent and a cop for what? A total of thirteen years? Does anyone really think that you would let your boss go without explicit directions telling you to stay away? Or that you wouldn’t try to get confirmation of her orders in a format that you can use as proof later?” SecNav asked.
“Fair,” Tony allowed. “And yes, I have several text messages and the recording of her verbally ordering us to stay behind. I started getting paranoid after some of her actions started to make no sense.”
“Does Gibbs know?” SecNav asked.
“No idea, sir,” Tony admitted. “He’s seen me start recording verbal orders before, but I have no idea if he believes I have recordings of Shepard’s orders.”
“This is a mess,” SecDef muttered as he grabbed a folder off the coffee table before them. “Okay, so I’m going to say that DiNozzo is what we need for the SGC. And if he is taken on, we need to get him some permissions to record as he needs.”
“General O’Neill, you’ve been remarkably quiet. I didn’t think that was possible,” Hayes said as he leaned back in his chair.
Jack shifted slightly to look at the president. “This was more Tony’s show than mine.”
Hayes nodded once. “And yet, you brought him to my attention. Why?”
“Because he’s an investigator and I need one badly.”
“You’ve handled things in house before,” SecDef cut in.
“Not well.” It sounded like it pained Jack to admit that. “My officers are line officers who lead troops, not investigate crimes. We don’t have the training for that. We’ve had to go outside of the SGC for experienced investigators and frankly, that’s rarely worked out well for us. Our main source of investigators has been the NID and they have caused issues in the past and while we eventually got our answers, sometimes those answers have come at costs that I’m not willing to have my people pay anymore.”
“Hmm,” SecNav grabbed the packet out of SecDef’s hands and started flipping through it. “Thanks, Bob.”
“You’re welcome,” SecDef said wryly. “Barring the bullshit with Vance and Shepard, DiNozzo has an enviable record. When he joined MCRT, the solve rate went up 20% and stayed there the entire time he was on it. He’s got numerous commendations, awards and just plain thank you cards littering his official record and very few black marks. Speaking of, what was the one about the most recent undercover?”
“I ended it after things went south. It was my professional opinion that it was too dangerous to continue and that it would be better for me to be extracted than continue. With the extraction done and done successfully, I could come back to the mark at a later date when my cover wasn’t in danger of being blown.” Tony explained carefully. The whole Frog mess was something that Chegwidden was looking into with IA. He had no idea what was going to happen now that Shepard was dead.
SecDef tilted his head to the side. “And Shepard noted it in your record as refusing to continue an UC assignment?”
“Yes,” Tony confirmed. His contract with NCIS explicitly stated that he could refuse an UC assignment if it was toxic and he’d used that clause several times while at NCIS when his assignments had been shady. Too bad he hadn’t thought to use it when he had started the Frog assignment.
“Is it relevant to what happened to Shepard? Or with Vance?” Hayes asked. He was writing himself a note and Tony tried not to wonder what he was putting down.
“Tangentially only, sir,” Tony said after several moments of thought. “I have no idea if my public record shows all my awards or not. I’m certain that it does show any and all disciplinary actions taken against me while I was at NCIS. I wasn’t able to determine which version of my file Vance had.”
“You were using the public record as what?” SecDef asked as he leaned back to read over Winter’s shoulder.
“My public record is used to build an identity when I do an undercover job. If someone uses that as the only way to judge me, it’s a very poor impression,” Tony explained.
“Do you think that’s what Vance did?” Jack asked.
“I have no idea,” Tony turned to look at Jack and shrugged. “I know he had a number of files on his desk and I have no idea how many of them belonged to me. Also, unless we ask him, I doubt we’ll find out.”
“Right, we’ve wandered far afield,” Hayes announced with a clap of his hands. “The major reason we’re here is to talk to Agent DiNozzo and get his measure. He’s got the ethics we need; he’s got the spine and the ability to keep going in the face of resistance. He also seems to hold his honor with some degree of sacredness.”
“I still left NCIS,” Tony reminded the president when he paused.
“So why did you leave?” Hayes pressed.
“My health is a legitimate issue,” Tony started. He stared into the distance and then blinked. “But that wasn’t the major reason. I wasn’t willing to become the whipping boy for Vance, Gibbs, and NCIS regarding Shepard’s death. If I had stayed and let them use me that way, I would have lost myself.”
“Okay,” Hayes nodded once. “So, I want you to head up the investigative arm of Homeworld. Your mandate will be to investigate the SGC, Area 51, Atlantis, and every single asset attached to any of those units.”
Tony swallowed once and tried not to freak out. What the president had proposed was far in excess of his skills at running MCRT. “Sir, the closest I’ve come to a true management position was when I was in charge of the MCRT several years ago.”
“You’ve been Gibbs’ second for six of your seven years at NCIS,” SecNav reminded him. “You’ve run your own operations and you stood in for Gibbs. I don’t see an issue with you doing this.”
“And my relationship with General O’Neill?” Tony asked.
“What relationship?” SecDef asked.
“Tony and I have been seeing each other, off and on, for the last seven years,” Jack informed the room, voice even. “Given our personal relationship, I can’t be the one he reports to. The president is aware of this and will make the determination of who Agent DiNozzo will be reporting to.”
“Are you still sleeping with him?” SecDef asked. He sounded vaguely scandalized.
“If I am or not, that’s not the issue. The issue is that Agent DiNozzo and I had a personal relationship that will affect our professional relationship. To head off any possible accusations of favoritism, we need to work out our chain of command now, before we go any further,” Jack snapped.
“Sir, is it your intention to be offensive?” Tony asked. He was struggling not to let his inner asshole fly. He was in a very elaborate job interview and it would not be wise to be as blunt as he wanted to be.
“I didn’t know O’Neill was gay,” SecDef protested.
“Where the general consensually uses his cock isn’t our business, Bob,” Hayes reminded. “What is our business is making sure that our investigator and his division are free to investigate who they need to, without having an impediment. I’m glad that General O’Neill has been honest with us and is working to keep any issues to a minimum.”
“Thank you, sir,” Jack murmured. He looked over at SecDef. “Secretary Gates, no, I am not currently sleeping with Tony. That may change since one of my goals in having him near is to see if we can make a relationship work. As for the gay thing? I know that you got the reports that show that every ATA positive gene holder is at the very minimum, bi.”
“I didn’t think that meant you,” SecDef sighed. “And I should have. You and Hammond made sure that we got rid of DADT as soon as possible because of the ATA issue, didn’t you?”
“Yes, sir, we did,” Jack admitted.
Tony perked up at that. DADT had been a pain in the ass to deal with and he hadn’t shed a tear when it had gone away. It had also been a background worry when he had started seeing Jack. To know that Jack had been one of the reasons why the rule had been scrapped was awesome.
Gates looked uncomfortable at that. “So what? We just accept that you and DiNozzo are going to be dating?”
“Yes,” Hayes cut in. “You do. And you are going to like it.”
“Lovely,” Gates grumbled and sat back on the couch. “So what will DiNozzo be investigating?”
“Everything,” Jack said, voice grim. “I want him to investigate the whole program from beginning to end and everything in between.”
“That means he’s going to investigate you too,” Hayes observed.
Tony watched as the powerful men in the room digested that. “If I do that, I won’t be getting back with General O’Neill until and unless he’s cleared. I’ll report to the President with my findings and I would suggest that I report to Director Morrow in Homeland since he’s aware of how I work.”
Jack glanced at him and Tony raised an eyebrow at him in question. “I think that’s a smart compromise,” he allowed.
“Is Morrow in the know about the SGC?” Hayes asked as he wrote something down on the legal pad in front of him. When no one answered, he looked up. “Gentlemen?”
Gates shook his head. “No sir, he doesn’t know the full picture. We’ve not had a reason to read him in completely. He does know that we’ve got a hot military/civilian project though.”
“That will be your job. And O’Neill’s,” Hayes instructed. He turned back to Tony and pointed his pen at him. “If I give you the authority to hire yourself a team what will you do?”
Tony thought it over for a brief moment. “Cherry pick some of the best and brightest that I know and can use to make sure that I can investigate all the areas and peoples assigned to me and do it safely.”
“And will you have other investigators?” SecNav asked. “And will any of them be coming out of NCIS?”
“I’m going to pass on NCIS at this time,” Tony admitted. “The names I have in mind are FBI, Army, and a few CSI’s.”
“Okay,” Hayes signed the page in front of him and handed it over. “I’ll get you the official copy of this, but you’ve got your authorization.”
“Yes, sir,” Tony said with a gulp. He looked at Jack and shrugged. “I’ll try to make this as painless as possible?”
Jack laughed softly and shook his head. “I’ve had nothing to hide for years, Tony. Investigate away. And clear those who legit deserve it. Roast those who deserve that too.”
“Sir, yes, sir,” Tony agreed.
What had he gotten himself into?
“We aren’t going to have sex, are we?” Jack observed as they entered his house.
“Not a hope in hell until I get you cleared,” Tony confirmed. He dropped down onto the couch in Jack’s living room and looked around. “Can we talk here?”
“Yeah,” Jack said. He pulled out his keychain and thumbed what Tony had always thought was a keyfob for a car. When it pulsed green, Jack set it down and took a seat across from him. “We’re clear.”
“Okay, so this is not what I was expecting when I got up this morning,” Tony admitted. He leaned back into the couch and tried to relax. “I was expecting to get censured or even fired for my role in Shepard’s death, but I wasn’t expecting the way Vance went about it. Being fired is one thing, but being made to take the blame from him was the last straw to a very shitty week.”
“And why was that?” Jack asked.
“Because I got that shit from Gibbs. He wasn’t happy with me about Shepard being dead. They had a thing years ago and I have no idea if the ending was mutual or not. But Shepard was very invested in getting his attention any way she could get.” Tony frowned as he thought the situation out. “At any rate, it didn’t work out. And with her dead, it’s not going to.”
“Joy,” Jack sighed. “Remind me that I can’t knock him on his ass when I see him next?”
“Will do,” Tony confirmed. “And that may be tomorrow when we go get my stuff out of my apartment.”
“For fucks sake,” Jack muttered. “Do you really think Gibbs is staking out your apartment?”
“I left and didn’t get his permission even if it was me basically getting fired. He likes to think that if you are on his team, you are his. And to be fair, I was for a while,” Tony allowed. He grimaced as he thought of how he had fallen under Gibbs’ spell. “Now, I’m just tired of his drama. He’s not on the list of people I want for my new position.”
“Speaking of, what are you going to call it?”
“No damn idea,” Tony admitted.
“Not the most politically correct name for a department, but it comes across as honest,” Jack teased.
“Fucker,” Tony muttered. He ran his hands over his face and tried to think about that. “I don’t know.” He pulled the handwritten letter out of his jacket pocket and opened it. He hadn’t bothered to read it while in the Oval Office. He hadn’t wanted to give the impression that he distrusted the President’s word. Reading the words on the paper, he started to laugh. “We’re not getting a nice acronym. Department of Homeworld Security, Investigation and Enforcement. DHSIE.”
“We’re going to have to work on that,” Jack observed after several minutes of thought. “I’ll get the geek squad on it.”
“Okay,” Tony said. He glanced at Jack and raised an eyebrow. “I think we both need to talk some things out.”
“You’re volunteering for emotional bloodletting?” Jack asked. He held up a hand and shook it as if to consign the subject to the ether. “I know, we need it. My secrets, your secrets, and how we both fucked things up.”
Tony stared at Jack and nodded once. “Yeah, we’ve got stuff to talk about. Because while yours is more earthshaking, mine had the ability to fuck us both up.”
“We weren’t dating when you started that undercover,” Jack snapped.
“No, we weren’t,” Tony confirmed. “You were basically MIA for the year that I was dealing with that mess.”
“Saving the world takes time,” Jack informed him.
“I take it that’s not hyperbole?” Tony asked.
Jack shook his head and Tony could feel the sliver of hope that Jack was pulling his leg, die. “Not a hope.”
“Jesus, Jack. What in the hell happened that year?”
“We spent that year fighting a no holds barred war with a race called the Ori. They were aliens who wanted to convert us to their religion or wipe our planet out to make sure our lack of compliance didn’t spread. If they’d gotten close, you would have been picked up and thrown through to our fallback position.” Jack explained.
“That would have been a hell of a surprise,” Tony muttered. He pushed aside the questions he had about the Ori and concentrated on the other issues. “It pissed me off that I wasn’t able to talk to you that year, but it was also a blessing. I needed to concentrate on my job and on the undercover. It wasn’t a good year. And part of the reason why Shepard placed that black mark in my record.”
“Did Gibbs know about it?” Jack asked.
“Eventually. He wasn’t happy with me, but I was honestly obeying orders for once. And then I was trying to figure out how to extract myself from my UC in a way that left me and my unwitting partner, intact.” Tony frowned as he thought of Jeanne. “She’s safe, but I’m pretty sure she hates my guts.”
“Well, shit then.” Jack looked uncomfortable for a moment and Tony had to wonder what he was thinking.
“That whole time was the year you were involved with Jeanne Benoit, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah, it was,” Tony confirmed. “Why?”
“Because she tried to talk shit about you when we went to her with some questions. We were careful not to blow the identity you had, but she wasn’t happy to hear your name,” Jack related.
“Right. Well, that’s something I’ll add to my list of things to keep an eye on then,” Tony said before pressing the heels of his hands into his eyes. “Okay. And the year you spent saving the world?”
“Lots of death-defying action and even more coverups. So very many coverups. We lost some good people that year. And earned ourselves two new enemies, defeated an old one, found the key to wipe the Ori off the face of existence, and made another. We didn’t really have a good year,” Jack said after staring at the ceiling for several seconds.
“How do you make an enemy in your world?” Tony asked. He had a feeling that whole list of shit was going to give him nightmare fuel for years to come. “Beyond the normal ways one gets enemies.”
“Some of my people experimented on an alien with the explicit approval of the IOA. They blew past ethics, rights, and caution and went straight into Jurassic Park territory. I wasn’t happy, but I was told that I had no leg to stand on to keep them from doing the experiment.” Jack looked deeply uncomfortable as he explained the situation and Tony winced. Whatever the hell it was that Jack was describing had just moved up on his mental list of things to question. Right after the genocide.
“I’m going to find a lot of shit when I start looking things over, aren’t I, Jack?” Tony probed.
“Tony, there’s enough questionable shit in our records that I honestly can’t remember it all,” Jack admitted. “And it all needs to be cleaned up and dealt with before we even think about going public. Because of the incidents I mentioned get out? I can’t even imagine the fallout.”
“I’m going to go through your organization with a fine-toothed comb, Jack. And I will recommend people for prosecution if they’ve broken the law,” Tony promised. He had edged the line too many times while at NCIS to be willing to do that in his new job.
Jack nodded once at that. “Yeah, I figured. But we need to hammer out what you’re going to use because the US law and the UCMJ both fail in spectacular fashions on a few fronts.” He waved a hand around. “The enemy we wiped out… Well, the Ori believed that they were the chosen of gods who actually moved among them. They had a convert or die philosophy. Among other charming habits. To help people along, they liked to inflict plagues, set people on fire, destroy planets, to name only a few of their charming habits. When we got confirmation that the main batch of assholes was dead, I didn’t shed a tear. I was too busy trying to deal with the brainwashed troops they had running around the Milky Way.”
“And that sounds like another horror show,” Tony said on a sigh. “What a mess we’ve gotten ourselves into, Jack.”
“We’ll work it out,” Jack said, obviously trying to comfort. They were quiet for several minutes before Jack stood up and headed for the bedrooms. “Come on. It’s late, you need sleep and I need to try and remember that I’m being an adult and waiting until you and your people clear me before I check to see if I can get you in my bed again.”
Tony followed Jack into the guestroom that he had never used and tried to remember the same thing. He had missed Jack and had been looking forward to some deeply satisfying sex with the man before he’d gotten the job offer. “My ethics are giving us a case of blue balls,” he announced to the empty room when Jack ducked out to get him the shower kit he’d left the last time he’d spent time with him.
“I’m not actually complaining,” Jack promised as he handed him the kit.
“I know.” Tony allowed. He stared at the older man and sighed. “Go get some sleep, Jack. We’re going to have a long day tomorrow.”
Jack stared for a moment before he spun on his heel and headed out the door. “Right. I normally wake up at 0500 for a run.”
“I’ll be up,” Tony promised. He waited until the door was closed before he sat on the bed and stared at the ceiling. “Fucking aliens? So not what I was expecting.”
“How long do you normally run for now?” Jack asked as they stretched before their run.
“Five miles now,” Tony admitted. He carefully stretched his legs, making certain to pay special attention to his knees. “I can’t run the lengths I used to before I got the plague.”
“Plague? You caught Y. Pestis?” Jack asked, shooting Tony a sharp look.
“Yeah, I did. It was hell on earth for a while, but I got better.” Tony admitted with a faint edge of black humor. His getting better was due to unstinting hard work and being paranoid about his health. He, better than most, knew he needed to keep his activity levels up so as to keep his lung function going. “I’m one of the really lucky ones who survived the pneumonic plague.”
“Fuck me,” Jack sounded slightly shattered and Tony looked at him sharply.
“Not now, honey,” Tony teased.
“Huh?” Jack blinked once and then shook his head. “No, I didn’t mean that literally. We have something at the SGC that should help with your lungs. Maybe even heal any damage that remains from the plague.”
“You can do that?” Tony asked. He had no idea if Jack was pulling his leg or not, but the hope, the possibility of being able to breathe freely again? That was amazing.
“Yeah, we can,” Jack promised. “We’ll get that going first thing after we do the standard intake physical we do for everyone.”
“You’re going to have to explain that when we get back,” Tony warned. He shook out his legs and then started running in the direction Jack pointed him towards.
The run was bracing and he could feel his worries and anxieties smoothing out as the miles were eaten up. The exercise felt amazing and he was vaguely disappointed when they turned back to Jack’s house. They hadn’t talked while they had run, but there had been an easy peace between them.
Showered, dressed, and with his coffee in hand, Tony eyed the keyfob and nodded at it. “I think you need to hit that again.”
“Yeah, I do,” Jack admitted. The little device was turned on and Jack set it on the counter. “Okay, so the device that can possibly heal your lungs is from our first enemy, the Goa’uld. We’ll get into the in-depth explanation of who and what they are later, but suffice to say, we learned to use their proprietary tech. Sometimes at great personal cost, but we’ve got three people who can use that tech, and two of them can use it to heal. All three people can use that same tech to harm.”
“Because harming someone is easier than healing someone,” Tony mused.
Jack looked disturbed about something. “Yes, it is.”
“Okay, so there’s a chance I can get healed. Will it hurt them to help me?” Tony asked. Nothing came for free after all and even nifty alien healing tech had to require something.
“The person doing the healing will need a good meal after each session and the person who is healed will need rest and food as well. The energy needed for the changes to the body has to come from somewhere,” Jack explained.
“Okay, I can see that,” Tony said after several moments of thought. “And it’s very obviously alien, so there’s no using the same tech on the masses?”
“No,” Jack shook his head. “It looks like hands-on, faith healing or magic. It’s way too alien for the mainstream right now. And with only two people who can use it, there’s no way to distribute it.”
“I’m going to hate this, but why can those two use it?” Tony asked carefully.
“Because one had the Goa’uld who had taken over her body die in it and the other had been possessed for about fifty years before dying in her,” Jack growled. He took a deep breath and then a sip of his coffee. “Neither of those women wanted what happened to them, but they’re living with the after-effects of what happened to them.”
Tony goggled at Jack and he could feel himself go pale. “Possessed? What in the hell?”
Jack stared at him and smiled grimly. “Yeah, it wasn’t good for either of them. The other poor bastard was possessed twice, but the Goa’uld didn’t stick around either time.”
“The explanation for this is going to be epic, isn’t it?” Tony asked. “I’m missing so much of the story I don’t even know where to begin. That briefing packet wasn’t enough.”
“Honestly, I’m just going to drop you into our archives and let you go to town. After we get you clothes and a team,” Jack offered. He poured himself more coffee and waved the pot at Tony.
Tony held out his cup and smiled as the rich brew filled it up. “Okay, off the heavy stuff. Your coffee choices have improved.”
“Daniel was out here last week and brought me a couple of pounds of his favorite. It’s okay, but you know I drink the cheap stuff,” Jack reminded him.
“I need to congratulate Daniel on making a good choice. That and get the name of it so I can buy some,” Tony poured cream and sugar in his coffee to doctor it to his tastes. He took a fresh sip and sighed. “Okay, so let’s go get my gear.”
“You sure you want to do this? We can wait and come back to it in a few days,” Jack offered.
“There are things I need from my home,” Tony admitted. “Not the least of which is my Rolodex. It has my contacts list and I’m going to need to mine that to set up my new department.”
Jack nodded once before he washed out his coffee cup and loading it in the dishwasher. “Let’s get going then.”
“Son of a bitch,” Tony muttered as they pulled into the parking lot of his condo.
“He’s still here?” Jack asked as he glanced up from the pile of paperwork Davis had given him when they had gotten in the car.
Tony waved at the government issue sedan in his parking space. “Yeah, he is.”
“Isn’t this going to be fun,” Jack muttered. He tapped the paper he was reading against his chin and nodded. “Davis, look into Keller and see why she’s determined to stay here on Earth. And get Tony a tablet loaded with everything on it.”
“I’ve already started with the tablet, sir. Colonel Carter said to tell you it will be done in about four hours and she’s going to include the most up to date encryption tech she can on it. She also muttered something about it being an honor to serve before signing off,” Davis reported from the front seat of the SUV.
“Fuck, she said that it was her honor to serve?” Jack asked.
Tony glanced at him sharply and raised an eyebrow at the phrase. It sounded like a set of code words that Jack used with his team. Whatever it meant it wasn’t good.
Davis nodded “Yes, sir.”
“Damn it, Therra. What have you gotten yourself into now?” Jack muttered as he pinched the bridge of his nose. “Tony, as soon as you can, I need you to start investigating General Landry. Apparently, there’s something fishy with there.”
“Is this a desperate need thing or is there enough time for me to get orientated and maybe get a few bodies for the new department?” Tony asked.
“It’s not 911 right now, but that code is from our fourth year and means that there’s something going on that isn’t right with the upper chain of command and it’s affecting the day to day running of the SGC,” Jack explained. He looked faintly disturbed. “Paul, did she say if she wanted a callback?”
Davis nodded once and waved his phone at Jack. “She mentioned that you have a phone and can text her?”
Jack grimaced and pulled out his phone. “She knows I hate texting,” he muttered as he picked out a message. Tony declined to read over his shoulder, it wasn’t quite his business yet. “Here’s to hoping that she’s not going to call me when we get into it with Gibbs. He doesn’t have the clearance to hear any of this.”
“But he has the curiosity to try to chase it down and that would just get him into trouble,” Tony concluded.
“Yes.” Jack looked up from his phone and sighed. “Okay, we’ve been sitting down here long enough, let’s get this shit show over with.”
“When I gave you that key, it was for emergencies only,” Tony reminded as he walked into his apartment. He raised an eyebrow at Gibbs and held out his hand. “Since I’m no longer employed by NCIS, I’ll be taking it back.”
Gibbs ignored his outstretched hand to take a sip of his coffee. “You’re late.”
“I’m as on time as I want to be since I’m not working for you,” Tony said, voice even. He wasn’t going to let his former boss get to him. “Now, since you’ve broken and entered, why don’t you add leaving to the list?”
“Leon shouldn’t have tried to send you off as Agent Afloat, but you had no reason to quit. I’ll see you in the office in an hour,” Gibbs continued. “And I’m still your boss.”
“No, you aren’t, Gibbs,” Jack announced as he walked in after Tony. “You’re his former boss. And as far as I remember, given that Tony told me about this yesterday, he resigned. And that means that you’re here in his apartment, uninvited.”
“I didn’t agree to him resigning,” Gibbs ground out. Tony was sure he was grinding his teeth together to hold onto some form of self-control. He’d seen the older man do it a lot when faced with situations that ended up sliding out of his control. “Leon will have to lump it.”
“I resigned, Gibbs.” Tony waved a hand in the direction of the Naval Yard. “I’m no longer an employee of NCIS. And I know, because I wrote it out, that I said as much in my resignation letter.”
From the expression on Gibbs’ face, he wasn’t accepting the news. “You…”
“Jesus Fucking Christ, you are a stubborn son of a bitch, aren’t you?” Jack cut in. He moved in front of Tony and stared at Gibbs. “Tony is no longer in the employ of NCIS. He’s working for another agency now. You and Vance lost one of the best and brightest agents because you’re both stupid. Now deal with your disappointment and move on. Also, give Tony his key back and then leave!”
“Jack,” Tony murmured as he stepped in front of him. “I’ve got this.” He looked back at Gibbs and raised an eyebrow at his former boss. “We had a decent run, Gibbs, but it’s over now. I’m not going back and you need to move on.”
Gibbs stared at him for almost a minute and Tony held his gaze with ease. He had nothing to hide. Not anymore. And there was no stress to standing up to Gibbs, he found. Now that he was no longer his boss, Tony didn’t have a need to please him.
“You sure?” Gibbs asked, voice quiet and calm.
It was a change to how he had sounded before and Tony appreciated it. “Yes.”
“Okay,” Gibbs said after another long pause. He pulled his keyring out and worked the key to Tony’s apartment off the ring. Setting it on the coffee table, he tapped it once with a finger before standing. “Good luck, DiNozzo.”
Tony held his peace until Gibbs left. “Jack, deploy your keychain.”
“It’s a fob,” Jack muttered as he pulled the small device out and turned it on.
“I don’t care and I’ll ask Sam what it really is later,” Tony bitched back as he heard two sharp buzzes echo in the room. One was in his overhead light and the second fizzed out in his desk lamp. “Son of a bitch.”
“Well that’s bullshit,” Jack sighed. “I wonder when those went in?”
“I don’t have access to the fob,” Tony said as he stared at his lights before turning back to Jack. “But I really want one.”
Jack looked frustrated for a moment. “We’ll see about getting you one.” Turning around he moved to sit down where Gibbs had been. “Do you think he did anything?”
“Tracking devices, searching my stuff, and the like?” Tony asked. At Jack’s nod, he shook his head. “No. He knows I’d have his ass if he tried something like that.”
“Okay, but that doesn’t explain the two devices that were planted,” Jack reminded him.
“I’ve been on a number of sensitive cases,” Tony admitted. He thought over the last few months and shook his head. “I honestly don’t think it was those, though. The only other option is Abby and yeah, she’s also got a key that I need to get back.”
“Why the keys?” Jack asked. He looked around the room and waved a hand. “Why allow them into your space?”
Tony shrugged once and headed for his bedroom. “Because I get injured and sometimes I needed my coworkers to get me stuff for hospital stays.”
“Jesus, Tony. So those times I saw bruises and shit on you?” Jack called.
“I was likely coming off a case?” Tony postulated. He thought over their last few hookups and nodded. “Yeah, the last three times, I had been the one to take down a fleeing subject and tackled them.”
“You’re just as much of a trouble magnet and Danny is, aren’t you?” Jack sounded faintly horrified and Tony snorted once in laughter.
“I don’t know. I’ll give you an update on that status after I finish your files. Now come help me pack. I need to know what I’m getting into with your insanity,” Tony demanded. He was standing in front of his closet and mentally cataloging the contents. When he heard Jack stop outside the door he glanced over his shoulder. “Suits or jeans?”
“Were you a fashionista in another life?” Jack asked as he leaned against the door and surveyed the room. “Bring a mix. You’re going to be meeting with the movers and shakers, plus getting down and dirty and you know it. Better to be prepared.”
“Right.” Tony checked his watch and tried to remember what was going on over at NCIS. “I think we have about two hours before anyone else shows up.”
“Anyone else being who?” Jack asked as he reached for Tony’s luggage and opened it on the bed.
“Abby,” Tony said. “She’s hotheaded enough to head over here as soon as she can and that’s going to be about an hour after she gets into work.”
Jack flashed him a disgusted look as he opened the drawer for his underwear. “For fuck’s sake, Tony. What in the hell is going on over there?”
“Chaos,” Tony said with a shrug. “Make sure to bring the boxer/briefs and t-shirts.”